I love a reason to celebrate, even if you have to dig a little deep to find one. One summer we threw a party for Huey Lewis’ birthday (July 5). We played music by Huey Lewis and the News (obvs), displayed a couple of framed 8 x 10’s of Huey that we’d signed as if he’d autographed them for us, and put out of spread of foods we called Huey’s favourites. Which of course included cake: a homemade three-layer chocolate birthday beauty with a little bit of a lean and a whole lot of butter cream icing. It was some kind of wonderful, that party. I think Rosie Daykin would have approved. The owner of Vancouver’s Butter Baked Goods bakery and bestselling author is back with a year of reasons to celebrate in her second book, Butter Celebrates: A Year of Sweet Recipes to Share with Family and Friends.
“I didn’t have a visit from the Queen in mind when I wrote this book,” Rosie writes, “but instead saw the moments, big and small, that help make up a life … These are the treats you can fill your picnic basket with as you head to the beach to visit fireworks. It’s cookies for your secret Valentine, the cake that reveals that you’re having a girl or simply the fuel warm Hot Cross Buns provide before the big Easter egg hunt.”
It’s also a thoughtful and comprehensive baking and entertaining resource. There are lists of pantry staples (“I always opt for fancy [molasses] because blackstrap sounds mean”), refrigerator staples (full-fat is best!), tools and equipment, baking tips (how to butter and flour a baking pan, folding vs. stirring, what to watch for when whipping egg whites for meringue) and essential elements of entertaining (forget perfection and remember what it’s all about: “setting a table for everyone to gather around and connection with family and friends.”).
There’s an entire chapter devoted to butter creams and frostings and another (my favourite!) with ways to wrap up sweet packages to share. Rosie shows us how to tie the perfect bow, and how to present goodies so they’ll be remembered long after they’re enjoyed. I love the idea of packaging a few cookies in a pretty vintage tea cup and saucer or in a stack of bamboo steamers from the dollar store.
The photography is bright and airy everything looks so appetizing you’ll be tempted to sniff the pages, hoping for a whiff of the warm spices and vanilla that must waft from Rosie’s kitchen. We’re treated to peeks of her pretty pink and pistachio bakery and charmed by the touches of humour throughout, like the framed pictures of Rosie with a pie in the face. She seems like someone who takes her work seriously but doesn’t take herself too seriously, someone who thoroughly enjoys entertaining and all of the messiness that comes with it.
There are Irish Coffee Cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day, Strawberry Basil Galette for a summer celebration, Apple-Stuffed Challah for Hanukkah and treats to welcome a new neighbour or a new baby. Because it was Thanksgiving (which curiously appears in the book after Halloween), I made the Pumpkin Pecan Loaf. The recipe was straightforward and as delicious as any I’ve ever tasted. The butter and brown sugar paste spread across the top felt positively decadent but didn’t make the loaf too sweet — just perfect to enjoy with an afternoon cup of tea.
The Orange Gingerbread Cake from the Christmas chapter is worth the price of the book alone. It’s incredibly moist (and remains moist several days later), perfectly spiced and not the least bit difficult to make. I am so, so impressed with this cake!
I can’t wait to make the French Macarons, the Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts and the Animal cookies.
“It’s a known fact that your baking tastes better when you share it with others,” Rosie says.
I know I’ll be turning to Butter Celebrates! again and again and baking (and sharing!) from it throughout the year.
Penguin Random House Canada Ltd. sent me a copy in exchange for a review.